Kevin Buckelew

I am a Ph.D. candidate in Columbia University's Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, where I study Chinese Buddhism and religion. My dissertation explores the rise of the Chan (Zen) tradition, analyzing the religious, literary and cultural mechanisms whereby Chan Buddhists invested themselves with the authority of living buddhas. They did so, I suggest, by both appropriating canonical tropes of heroism from the inherited Buddhist tradition, and transforming these tropes according to a wholly new aesthetic tailored to the preferences of Song dynasty (960-1279) China. Other research interests include the role of figurative imagery in mediating the reception of Buddhism in medieval China, with particular attention to the ways this imagery provided a space for Buddhists and Daoists to negotiate the boundary between materiality and metaphor.